|Night or day, there's always something to do in Korea. Whether you're searching for your favorite type of activities from back home or looking for a new experience, here's a sampling of what Korea has to offer.|
|Foreign visitors to South Korea must have a valid passport and obtain a Korean visa before entering the country. People from certain countries, however, may visit Korea temporarily without a visa. For more information about tourist, student and employment visas, please visit the Visas section.|
|Clubs & Bars
Whether you prefer dancing or passing the pitcher around the table, Korea has your ticket to unwinding after a hard day. For more information about Korean drinking customs, alcohol and anju (drinking snacks), please visit the Food and Drink section.
|Clubs & Nightclubs
Clubs and nightclubs are popular destinations for drinking and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Young people often prefer clubs (as opposed to nightclubs), opting for less tables and more room to dance. Clubs also often specialize in a certain genre of music, with hip hop and electronic especially popular in Korea's club scene. Nightclubs don't have bars or bartenders to order drinks from, with patrons ordering alcohol and anju at their own table from a server.
Hofs (Beer Houses)
The Korean term for a pub is "hof" (pronounced hopeu), which is short for the German term Hofbräu. These drinking halls don't have a physical "bar" or bartender, but usually serve a variety of alcoholic beverages, including draft beer. Alcohol is never purchased alone, but is always accompanied by plates or bowls of anju (drinking snacks).
There are many types of bars in Korea including Western Bars, Classic Bars, and Music Bars. Western Bars tend to be crowded and lively, while Classic Bars are calmer and quieter. Music bars are a great place to watch a live band or performance.
Pojangmacha (Snack Stalls)
A pojangmacha sells soju and a variety of anju that pair well with the drink. Most snack stalls are located outdoors (soju tents) and only cash payments are accepted.
|Popular Nightlife Districts|
Being the capital of Korea, Seoul has a vibrant nighttime scene spread across the city. Here's a brief intro to some of the hottest nightlife districts.
|Hongdae – "Hongdae" refers to the area around Hongik University, located in the northwest area of the Line 2 subway loop. Bars and clubs in this area are very popular with the university-crowd, as well as the young expat community. Hongdae is also a good area to catch an underground band show or sip coffee at one of the area's many cafés. Hongdae is also known for its unique artistic flare, with fun fashion shops, art galleries and other businesses catering to the university's art students.
Shinchon – Shinchon has a very popular night scene with the younger generation, being in proximity to Hongik University, Ewha Woman's University, Yonsei University and Sogang University. The area boasts a number of popular bars, restaurants and noraebangs (karaoke rooms).
Gangnam – To the south of the Han River lies Gangnam in all its upscale glory. Gangnam-gu features many shops, restaurants and entertainment options fit for its more-affluent residents. Neighborhoods like Apgujeong and Sinsa are known for their intimate eateries while the area near the Gangnam subway station is home to some of Seoul's more popular clubs.
Itaewon – Itaewon is a good spot to experience a bit of international culture in Seoul. A large number of foreign restaurants, Western-style bars and popular clubs are concentrated in this area near the United States Army Garrison-Yongsan.
Korean people often refer to Busan as the second capital of Korea. This seaside location is the largest port city in the nation, which helps to bring in a diverse range of entertainment options.
|Kyungdae – The area around Kyungsung University is home to many popular clubs, bars and noraebangs (singing rooms), making it a popular spot got the college-aged crowd.
Haeundae – Haeundae is a well-known beach area among Korean people. There are a lot of seafood restaurants and bars with an ocean view. The area's shopping malls and movie theaters are also a popular way to spend an evening.
Seomyeon – Seomyeon is a popular location in Busan for meeting a large group of friends because of its inexpensive restaurants and beer houses.
Daegu is a large city in the middle of Korea, making it a popular entertainment destination for residents of nearby cities and provinces.
|Rodeo District – A large concentration of popular restaurants, bars, clubs, movie theaters and shopping areas are located here.
Kyungdae – Many bars and beer houses are located in the area near Kyungpook National University. Inexpensive eateries and cafés are also popular among college students.
|Live Concerts & Performances|
|Many popular concerts, music festivals and performance take place throughout the year in Korea. Popular international acts have included Korean tour dates in recent years, performing to large crowds of locals and expats. K-Pop artists are also a popular draw with the local foreign communities, helping these groups to regularly play to sold-out audiences. There are also quite a few plays and long-running stage shows among the performance options.
Information for concerts and performances can be found in English-language magazines and newspapers, tourist information sites, arts centers and in WorknPlay's Entertainment section. Ticket purchases are most commonly made online, over the phone, at the box office or at large bookstores.
|Online and Over the Phone
Interpark, Yellow9, and Auction 티켓, offer online ticket reservations for concerts, plays and performances, although the websites are in Korean. Interpark does offer a limited number of performances in English (mainly for international concerts) on its global website, http://ticket.interpark.com/Global. Phone reservations can also be made with Interpark by dialing 02-1544-1555 and selecting "2" for service in English. Korea Sparkling, the official Korea tourism guide, also has a ticketing service for a number of popular stage shows on its website, http://english.visitkorea.or.kr.
Box Offices and Bookstores
Tickets may also be purchased at the venue box office or at large bookstores in the city of the event. It might be helpful have the name and date of the performance written in Korean, or to print out an announcement for the show from a ticketing website. Tickets purchased in advance, especially for larger concerts, are often sold at a discount.
These performance venues offer telephone or fax booking services for the shows they host.
|Outdoor activities are very popular in Korea, thanks in large part to the nation's treasured mountains, rivers and seas. Cities and rural areas also have great parks and athletic facilities for hiking, running and playing recreational sports.|
|Hiking/Mountain Climbing – Korea's hills and mountains are popular destinations for hikers year round. Areas throughout Korea have popular hiking spots, offering scenic views, fresh air and an escape from the rush of Korean life. Many neighborhoods, whether in urban or more rural areas, are within a short distance to a hiking trail. Gangwon-do is a popular destination for hikers, and is home to some of Korea's most famous national parks. There are a number of hiking clubs in Korea that go on weekly treks. International Guides of Korea, also offers mountain excursions for those interested in rock and ice climbing.
Skiing and Snowboarding – Winter sports are very popular in Korea, with many top-notch ski resorts located around the country. Gangwon-do and Gyeonggi-do have many popular spots for skiers and snowboarders.
Rafting and kayaking are popular sports during Korea's warmer months. Whitewater rafting and kayaking tours are available on Korea's many rivers and streams, especially in Gangwon-do.
|Korean Traditional Sports|
Taekwondo is the national sport of Korea and one of the country's most famous exports. According to ancient Korean history, soldiers learned taekwondo as a principal source of physical training. Besides fighting skills, taekwondo is known to enhance the spirit of the practitioner, through its mind and body training. Taekwondo has become an official Olympic sport, starting as a demonstration event in 1988 and becoming an official medal event in 2000.
Ssireum is a form of wrestling that has been practiced in Korea for thousands of years, with evidence discovered from the Three Kingdoms Period (57 BC to 688). Ssireum is the traditional national sport of Korea. During a match, opponents grip each other by sash belts wrapped around the waist and the thigh, attempting to throw their competitor to the sandy ground of the ring. The first opponent to touch the ground with any body part above the knee or to lose hold of their opponent loses the round.
Ssireum competitions are traditionally held twice a year, during the Tano Festival (the 5th day of the fifth lunar month) and Chuseok (the 15th day of the 8th lunar month). Competitions are also held throughout the year as a part of festivals and other events.
|Sporting events are popular in Korea, with indoor and outdoor matches held throughout the year. Badminton, table tennis (ping pong), figure skating, and golf are all popular, both for playing and watching. Korea's top three spectator sports, baseball, soccer and basketball, draw large crowds into stadiums and arenas. It's easy to understand level of passion Koreans have for their sports, through watching their spirited cheering culture.|
|Traditional Korean Performances|
|Traditional Korean performances are often held during festivals or at tourism areas throughout the year. Audiences are encouraged to dance during performances, and sometimes even allowed to join the performers during outdoor shows.|
|Samulnori – Samulnori is a traditional form of folk music involving four percussion instruments: a drum, a double-headed drum, a gong, and a small gong. It is often performed at religious services for a god. Instruments symbolize the wind, rain, clouds and lightning.
Pungmulnori – Pungmulnori is a form of music known to help to bring people together and encourage teamwork. For this reason, it was traditionally performed during the farming season. Pungmulnori involves a wider variety of musical instruments and more performers than Samulnori, with musicians also dancing while playing.
Talchum – Talchum is a mask dance. Categories of talchum are divided by their type story, and dances are usually named for the story's characteristics. Most traditional stories are a satire on noble society, because talchum was a popular form of entertainment among common people.
Pansori – Pansori is a traditional Korean narrative song. A singer narrates a tale using a unique traditional melody, sometimes acted out through dance. Although pansori may seem to be a form of monodrama, audience participation is often encouraged.
Ganggangsullae – Ganggangsullae is a Korean circle dance. It was usually performed by women under the full moon. Ganggangsullae is an easy dance, with dancers grasping each other's hands and forming a large circle. Performers then dance around in a circle, rhythmically repeating the dance's name "Ganggangsullae."
|Traditional Performance Venues|
|Here is a list of art centers which offer traditional Korean performances. Outdoor performances are generally free, but performances held indoors usually have an admission fee.
|Watching movies is a popular activity in Korea, in both mega-plex cinemas and small art theaters. Mega-plexes are especially popular because movie-goers can go shopping or have a meal or snack while waiting for their movie to begin. Most of the biggest Hollywood features are released in Korea, although many open later than in the West. Some larger theaters also screen Korean films with English subtitles during designated showings.|
|Singing is a popular entertainment option with Koreans, especially after a night of drinking. Groups of people go to noraebangs (singing rooms) where private rooms are equipped with a large screen, microphones and a songbook filled with tunes. English and Japanese songs are available in addition to Korean. Prices depend on the fanciness of the establishment, size of the room and number of hours singing. Beverages and snacks are often available for purchase. Children under the age of 18 must have their parents' permission to be in a noraebang after 10 pm.|
|English-Language Radio and Television|
Television fans will find a cable subscription almost necessary in Korea. Basic television networks are limited in number and often don't have good reception. Stations like CNN, BBC and Arirang have programming specifically targeted to the international community, with programming almost exclusively in English. On-Media's On Style and Story On channels show a good amount of English-language programming with Korean subtitles, although the episodes don't tend to be current.
|AFN (American Forces Network)
AFN provides American programming and military news to military service members and civilian employees throughout Korea. Although Korean cable companies have been asked to discontinue including this channel as part of their service, AFN can often be accessed in the Seoul area, although the reception isn't always clear.
Arirang airs English-language programming for the expatriate community in Korea and locals who want to improve their English skills. News, cultural programs and Korean dramas with subtitles are among the popular features.
There is an increasing amount of English-language radio programming in Korea over the past couple of years. Many areas throughout the country can access stations that play Western music, hosted by English-speaking deejays and announcers.
|Locations Around Korea
AFN – Korea: The Eagle and Thunder AM:
Daegu (Camp Walker): FM 88.5, AM 1080
Dongducheon, Gyeonggi-do (Camp Casey): FM 88.3, AM 1197
Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do (Kunsan Air Base): FM 88.5, AM 1440
Gwangju (Gwangju Air Base): FM 88.5
Jinhae, Gyeongsangnam-do (Chinhae Naval Base): FM 88.5, AM 1512
Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do (Camp Mujuk): AM 1512
Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do (USAG Humphreys): FM 88.3, AM 1440
Seoul (USAG Yongsan): FM 102.7, AM1530
Songtan, Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do (Osan Air Base): FM 88.5, AM 1359
Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi-do (Camp Red Cloud): FM 88.5, AM 1161
Waegwan, Gyeongsangbuk-do (Camp Carroll): FM 88.5, AM 1080
Wonju, Gangwon-do (Camp Long): FM 88.3, AM 1440
Busan e-FM: FM 90.5, SMS #9050
GFN: FM 98.7
Jeju City, Jeju-do: FM 88.7
Seoguipo, Jeju-do: FM 88.1
Other Locations: S-DMB, T-DMB, download Arirang Cast
TBS (Seoul Traffic Broadcasting) FM 95.1, eFM101.3